Galaxy Note 10: Samsung surprises this year
Update the look, already
The Galaxy phone design is getting stale. Samsung likes to move around the camera placement to help differentiate each year’s models. But the same curved sides we see on nearly every Galaxy phone, and that ultrareflective glossy backing, feel tired. Galaxy Note 10: Samsung surprises this year…
A refresh is long past due. For example, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus (the last three brands are connected by the same umbrella organization, BBK Electronics) have all trotted out exceptionally eye-catching designs with unctuous gradients and 3D chevron patterns. At long last, leaked images show that Samsung could embrace a similar look. The Galaxy Note 10 is also rumored to come in pink.
The screen needs to be as easy to use with a finger as it is with the stylus
I also hope that Samsung thinks about the curvature of the Note 10’s screen. The dual curved edges are now standard on the higher-end Galaxy phones, and while I love the way they help immerse me in the world on the screen, the design also introduces a couple of problems.
As bezels shrink and screens become truly edge-to-edge, the usable screen stretches all the way to the curve. I’ve had problems with phones like the Galaxy S10 Plus registering my finger when I tap the edge to place the cursor.
I also frequently use Samsung’s edge panel software, a menu of shortcuts you can access from any screen. On curve-screen phones, that tab rests right on the screen bend, which makes it tricky to access with a swipe.
While the precision of the Note’s S Pen stylus might help, I find that I use my fingers at least half the time — hopefully Samsung has found a happy medium between the radius of the screen curve and how far the active display extends. Galaxy Note 10: Samsung surprises this year…
Give us an in-screen fingerprint reader that works every time
I was pumped to try out the Galaxy S10 Plus’ in-screen fingerprint reader. So futuristic. So convenient to unlock the phone when it’s lying on a desk, without having to pick it up to get to the rear-mounted sensor. My enthusiasm didn’t last long.
The Galaxy S10 Plus’ in-screen fingerprint reader just doesn’t work well. Even after enrolling my primary thumb twice to increase my odds of unlocking the phone on the first try, it routinely takes two, three, or even four attempts to actually unlock the Galaxy S10 Plus. I often wind up just typing in my 6-digit code in exasperation.
Multiple software updates from Samsung haven’t helped, and the recommendation to delete all the prints and re-enroll them (for the third time) isn’t a satisfying or practical solution.
Better yet, give us face unlock
Google has already announced that the Pixel 4 will have secure face unlock like the iPhone X family of phones. That’s to say, it’ll use a dot projector to map your face. This has been a long time coming, but Samsung could have potentially gotten there first.
The Galaxy S10 lineup dropped the iris scanner that would have been secure enough for mobile payments. Samsung introduced that feature with the Galaxy Note 7, but pulling it in 2019 will mean its phones will fall behind the Pixel 4 when that phone launches — Pixels usually arrive in October.
Camera, camera, camera
When photos are the currency of your day, your phone had better have an industry-first camera. The Galaxy S10 Plus takes great shots. I get compliments all the time, even for images that don’t apply filters. But good as they are, Samsung is no longer at the top of the game for photos or video.
Huawei’s P30 Pro and Google’s Pixel 3 take far better low light shots, using standalone modes that take a little longer, but bring out tremendous clarity and brightness, without blowing out the shot.
Make the stylus relevant again
I like the S Pen stylus, the digital pen that gives the Note line its name. I mostly enjoy using it to take notes (it gives the typing fingers a break) and to navigate the phone’s interface without smearing it up with finger grease.
This year however, it’d be nice for Samsung to figure out a use case that people really care about. The S Pen is great for writing, taking precise screen shots and doodling, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that most people aren’t drawing detailed images with precise shading.
The Note 9 added Bluetooth capability, which lets you use the S Pen to take photos from afar, as a remote camera trigger. That’s nice, but not entirely necessary. The current rumors suggest that the S Pen will gain more features that will allow you to use it for gesture navigation, a bit like the Pixel 4 features that Google just announced.
We’ve been burned by gesture navigation before. Years ago, Samsung even used a version that let you advance photos and songs by passing your hand across the screen. I wasn’t a fan then, but times have changed, and perhaps this future — if it emerges — has too.
We’ll be live on the ground in New York covering the Galaxy Note launch. Stick with us for live impressions of the Galaxy Note 10.
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